Insomnia is common among adults, with about a third of U.S. adults not getting at least seven hours of sleep each night. But for insomnia sufferers who are willing to turn to marijuana for help, there may be some relief.
How Marijuana Supports Healthy Sleep
Marijuana offers a relaxing effect and can have a positive influence on sleep. At low doses, it can be calming and may relieve anxiety. In fact, cannabis compounds may offer mood stabilization, help ease depression, and reduce startle responses and nightmares.
A major part of what makes marijuana so effective for sleep is its ability to relieve symptoms that can interfere with sleep. Marijuana can be used to relieve anxiety, pain, and stress, which in turn can make it easier for you to relax and fall asleep at night.
Is CBD or THC Better for Healthy Sleep?
The answer is, both CBD and THC can help you sleep. Choosing which one to use depends on your preferences. Consider these factors:
- Psychoactive effects. THC offers psychoactive effects, while CBD does not. Although this may be a welcome addition for some users, it can be a problem if you’re not comfortable falling asleep in an altered state.
- Sedative effects. THC tends to have a more sedative effect, and can be more reliable for sleep than CBD.
- Influence on sleep. Although THC can help you sleep, your sleep may be lighter. THC can decrease REM sleep, so even if you’re able to fall asleep faster and enjoy more hours of sleep, you may decrease the deep sleep you need to wake up refreshed.
- Legality. You choice may depend on what you can legally acquire in your state. Although THC is legal in some states, CBD products are more widely available throughout the United States. It’s common to see CBD oils available even where THC products aren’t offered.
Generally, a mix of THC and CBD can be a good choice for sleeping. Blending the two can help you get the best of both, with relief of pain, light sedation, and alleviating anxiety so you can sleep better.
Using CBD or THC to Sleep Well
Both THC and CBD can help you sleep better, but they aren’t a magic solution for all of your sleep problems. Focus on healthy sleep habits along with support from THC, CBD, or both so you can sleep well regularly.
- Don’t become dependent on marijuana to sleep. Although marijuana can be a great solution if you’re having trouble winding down and getting to sleep, be careful that you’re not using marijuana to get to sleep every night or you may find it difficult to fall asleep without it.
- Give yourself more time to sleep. Keep in mind that marijuana can lessen the quality of your sleep, making your sleep more shallow. Although there’s no replacement for deep sleep, you may need more time in bed to make up for the lower quality of sleep experienced while using marijuana.
- Check your sleep habits. If your sleep hygiene isn’t where it should be, marijuana won’t change your bad habits. Make sure you’re staying on a regular sleep schedule and following a consistent bedtime routine. You should be relaxing before bed, such as taking a bath, doing yoga, or reading a book. Late night screen time, an erratic bedtime schedule, or even drinking alcohol or eating a big meal late at night can cause sleep issues.
- Don’t consume right before bed. Falling asleep as soon as you consume marijuana isn’t the best timing for THC or CBD. Instead, shoot for a couple hours before bed. You can benefit from the calming effect, but give yourself more time for REM sleep. And sometimes, CBD can induce wakefulness early on, so settling in and waiting a couple hours is a better choice than going straight to bed after consumption.
Marijuana can be helpful for sleep, and both THC and CBD offer benefits for sleeping well. Make sure you’re practicing healthy sleep habits and using marijuana for sleep effectively so you can see the best benefits.
Sara Westgreen is a researcher for the sleep science hub Tuck.com. She sleeps on a king size bed in Texas, where she defends her territory against cats all night. A mother of three, she enjoys beer, board games, and getting as much sleep as she can get her hands on.